Koehler Pearlers: Pfalz Friend’s Full Range

A new screw-capped Pinot Blanc is a handy addition to a fullish and utterly idiosyncratic range from the brilliant Dominik Sona of Koehler-Ruprecht. This is joined by a new vintage of the village Riesling, while the inclusion of our first Spätlese Trocken from Saumagen means we now have four ‘tiers’ of Riesling from this phenomenal limestone-dominant vineyard. The vintage depth is pretty cool, too; these wines are exceptionally long-lived, with mind-boggling complexity building over time.
2017 Koehler-Ruprecht Pinot Blanc RRP $33
Some fresh-nut character, as well as a wide range of white-fruit aromas, making this a rather elegant, medium-bodied pinot blanc that gives a lot of pleasure right now. 91 points. Stuart Pigott, jamessuckling.com

2018 Koehler-Ruprecht Riesling Kabinett Trocken RRP $32
Acacia flowers, honey, pineapple and lemon balm on a typical Koehler-Ruprecht Kallstadter nose. This relatively warm harvest for the Pfalz has produced a wine with a fairly round and soft attack. The fruit is ripe with a herbal inflection offsetting its sweet juiciness nicely. This is an easy-going version, and the convincing, textured finish brings it to a satisfying conclusion. Ed Merrison, CellarHand

2017 Koehler-Ruprecht Riesling Kallstadter Saumagen Spätlese Trocken RRP $74
Sweet corn, grapefruit and unusual hints of carnations and geraniums greet the nose. The palate reflects palpably high extract as well as body born of 13.5% alcohol, yet without heaviness; it feels silken, but there is juicy abundance of white peach, while sizzle of corn shoot and grapefruit zest lend invigorating counterpoint that follows into the persistently juicy finish. A sense of chalk and mineral salt suffusion heightens the wine’s intrigue as well as its sheer sensual appeal. 92 points. David Schildknecht, Vinous Media

2016 Koehler-Ruprecht Riesling Kallstadter Saumagen Auslese Trocken RRP $114
This wine’s 12.5% alcohol (at analytically nearly complete dryness) reflects virtually the highest achievable must weights for Koehler-Ruprecht in this vintage – barely crossing the legal threshold for Auslese – and very little fruit reached that point. Alkaline and saline sea breeze, smoky marjoram, pungent lemon zest and corn shoots with high-toned evocations of sour mash, gentian distillate and mothball make for a head-turning aromatic display. The silken, almost custardy palate brims with bright fresh lemon, sweet corn and white peach while perpetuating haunting florality. But the overwhelming and striking palate impression is of a multifaceted mineral suffusion and protein-rich savour, featuring Chablis-like suggestions of sweat, oyster liquor, chicken stock, chalk dust, and invigorating piquancy of lemon seed. This shakes up your entire mouth and milks your salivary glands. Good luck resisting the next sip, or indeed cellaring and then trying to keep your corkscrew away from sufficient bottles to ensure that you enjoy at least some of them in what is sure to be an even more glorious maturity. It’s hardly a coincidence that few dry Pfalz Rieslings today quite measure up to either the best of those being rendered by Sona and Schmitt, or the minuscule quantities of Riesling from this same site being bottled by Sona’s former boss and Koehler-Ruprecht proprietor Bernd Philippi. 95 points. David Schildknecht, Vinous Media

“Good luck resisting the next sip, or indeed cellaring and then trying to keep your corkscrew away from sufficient bottles to ensure that you enjoy at least some of them in what is sure to be an even more glorious maturity.”

David Schildknecht, Vinous Media

2009 Koehler-Ruprecht Riesling Kallstadter Saumagen Auslese Trocken ‘R’ RRP $163
This bottling has been out for nearly two years but I have noticed some still on the market, and it is showing too impressively today not to advertise its virtues with an updated tasting note. A high-toned nose mingles corn shoot, sour mash, kirsch, mothball, fresh ginger and distilled floral essences. The silky palate displays a subtly sweet sense of sheer ripeness despite analytical dryness, with hauntingly floral inner-mouth perfume and forest floor undertones that act like a plush carpet of moss over which plays a kaleidoscopic display of floral, fruity, spicy, subtly peaty and otherwise multifacetedly mineral elements. Incidentally, the starting point here was not significantly higher in must weight than were the grapes for two dry 2009 Spätlesen, so the designation “Auslese” was chosen entirely based on the wine’s personality and its (correctly!) perceived aging potential. 95 points. David Schildknecht, Vinous Media

2008 Koehler-Ruprecht Riesling Kallstadter Saumagen Auslese Trocken ‘R’ RRP $149
Matured, but also stunningly reductive on the nose, the intense, dense and elegant flavoured 2008 Saumagen Riesling Auslese trocken R definitely needs a decanter or 30 minutes in the glass to reveal its talents. Bottled with 12.5% alcohol it has a chalky, elegant and well-balanced palate but nothing here was prepared to be tasted almost seven years after the harvest! This is a firm, lively, mineral and straight Saumagen that is still young and discreet but should be a great wine in a couple of years. 93 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate

2007 Koehler-Ruprecht Riesling Kallstadter Saumagen Auslese Trocken ‘RR’ RRP $182
The 2007 Kallstadter Saumagen Riesling Auslese trocken RR is a huge, powerful and – still –promising wine! Bottled with 13.5% alcohol it is bulging-full of tension, very chalky, extremely mineral but still elegant, fresh, piquant and expressive. This is a truly great dry Riesling with lemon-fresh flavours, although flavours do not matter here. It is the tension and the complexity that makes this a great wine. The finish is still slightly drying but there is enough electricity to set your palate under fire in a couple of years. Nota bene: Riesling is not just an amazing grape for sweet wines. 95 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate

2016 Koehler-Ruprecht Pinot Noir RRP $35
Man, I like good German Pinot Noir. Something bony and direct about it, but pleasure-giving nonetheless. Pfalz does a good job when at the apex. Koehler-Ruprecht sits in that zone… 
Strong and vivacious bouquet of ripe cherries, tomato leaf, faint clove, lots of floral character. Crisp acidity and crunchy tannins, juicy cherry juice, pomegranate touches, just delightful with a mix of sweet and pleasingly sour flavours jostling. Touches all the pleasure zones and describes itself in fine wine paradigms. A coup! 93 points. Mike Bennie, The Wine Front September 2019